Thursday, January 27, 2011

Life is movement

Seasons change in nature and seasons change the people. It is the turn of winter now where the oddly named Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year, erupts. It triggers off what some people call the greatest human migration on Earth, which incidentally happens on a yearly basis, increasing in scale with every change of the calendar.
The official Chinese New Year travel mania period begins 15 days before Chinese New Year and lasts about 40 days according to Wikipedia and is most easily observed in the prosperous cities which attract labour from other provinces. Guangzhou is exactly one of those cities. It has such a large proportion of its population with a hukou (their household registration) outside of the city that every day leading up to the actual festival (the coming Wednesday, by the way) and this is the population that leaves to return to their hometowns. It causes the subway system to be clogged with people carrying excessive bagging (usually camped at the doors of the train to obstruct people getting in and out), speaking in a variety of unintelligible dialects and, without wanting to be too mean about it, usually having the least cultivation or politeness.
For a school it is a hollowing out experience as the students become sparser and schedules become leaner. Some teachers are left with one class of substance for one nine hour day (including lunch break). From this weekend, teachers (including me) will be leaving for their vacations meaning those left behind might be the only ones "holding the fort" in the office, alone. The office's lack of heating becomes more apparent. If there is one good thing this year, it doesn't seem as cold but maybe that is just a different house at at different time and a different set of clothes. I'll have over ten consecutive days off (for the cost of three days of annual leave) and god I feel like I need a break!


1 comment:

Crypticity said...

One thing I neglected to write was the rise in crime around this period. Last pre-CNY my boss had her handbag with her passport, a stack of USD and other personals stolen. Three weeks ago a similar thing happened to a colleague, his bag containing his passport and laptop gone. It's the time of year: people are expected to bring money back to their families, and so theft and other crimes spike in this festive season. This is the same a Christmas back home. It is also a reason that foreigners here hate the requirement to hold their passports at all times and most will risk being fined to not carry it. The latter colleague has fallen between the gaps in regulations: he'll most likely have to return home as he can't get new passport and a visa renew in the time he can stay in China.